Stone fruit is rampant at my local farmers market: peaches, plums, apricots, cherries... and the little yellow mirabelle plum. I only discovered this fruit last year, which isn't suprising given that most mirabelles are either made into jam, brandy or eau de vie. I chanced upon some of the tiny plums at my local market, and I couldn't help loading a few into my basket.
What Do They Taste Like?
Mirabelles are delicious when eaten fresh. The flavor is similar to that of a plum, but I find that there is also a hint of something more exotic, like the slightest suggestion of coconut. Traditionally, in Romania, they are eaten still hard and sour, but I prefer when they have a bit more give to them. If you're planning on eating mirabelles raw, look for fruits that resemble a ripe plum in texture: a taut, firm skin that gives a bit when you press it. Choose fruits without bruises or gashes; mirabelles can go bad quickly, and if you're storing them together in the fridge, one moldy mirabelle will quickly spread to its neighbors.
Where Do They Come From?
Mirabelles are grown all over the world, but the two best-known varieties hail from the Lorraine region in France. This northeastern area close to Germany has the best climate for growing Mirabelles, and as a result, the Lorraine has produced two distinct varieties of fruit. The ones that I bought and tasted are the ones from Nancy, distinguishable by the red spots that form on the yellow skin when the fruit is ripe. Nancy mirabelles are ideal for eating raw, while the smaller Metz variety is perfect for making mirabelle jam.
How Do I Eat Them?
Ah... the eternal question! While mirabelles are perfect for snacking -- a bit bigger than cherries, mirabelles make an excellent afternoon snack -- there are many more ways that you can use them, in main dishes or desserts. Because mirabelles are similar in flavor and texture to cherries or plums, they make a great substitute for these fruits in all kinds of recipes. Mirabelle jam is a traditional treat, but my favorite is to throw mirabelles into my clafoutis recipe.
For other ideas, try using mirabelles in place of cherries, plums or apricots in these (or your favorite!) recipes:
- Cinnamon Toast with Ricotta and Fresh Stone Fruit
- Tarragon Turkey Salad Lettuce Cups with Plums and Toasted Almonds
- Sweet Cherry Cobbler
- Apricot Chicken
- Peach Melba
Images: epimetheus and Emily Monaco